Monday, October 12, 2009

Modern . . . Beauty

Beauty's a transitory, subjective thing. It's true. We all know it. I remember once being totally surprised when I finally saw a guy a friend had referred to as "one of the best looking men" she'd ever seen. I met him and thought, "Huh? Seriously? I don't think he's even cute." And yet, there are definite opinions on whether characters ought to be beautiful.

I've heard both sides. That people want to a book to be an escapist fantasy, they want the characters to be what they dream of being. The other side has said, "I get so sick of reading about these perfect, gorgeous, nubile heroines meeting these perfect, muscular, alpha-male guys."

Can I agree with both? LOL. I have my share of awe-inspiringly-beautiful heroines. It inevitably causes them problems. I also have my share of not-traditionally-beautiful heroines who are nonetheless thought to be gorgeous by the heroes. I've gone for the "too"s on occasion--too tall, too heavy, too bold, too plain, too understated (too loud, too talkative, too quiet--to get into some other traits that can affect beauty in a heartbeat).

I've heard (or maybe thought) it's kind of a cop-out to have this "normal" looking woman and then have the hero end up thinking she's the most beautiful thing in the world. But . . . well, I'm a normal looking woman. And my husband has been telling me for going on twelve years now (ever since we started dating) that I'm the most beautiful woman in the world. Do I think he's full of it? Well, sure. But "it" is love, so I also believe him.

The debate of beauty is a topic that has raged in authors' circles for years and undoubtedly will keep doing so. But for me, it always comes down to this: take a walk down a busy street. Look at the people you pass. Sure, most of them have some physical flaws. And most of them work pretty hard to look their best in spite of them. I remember a particular day in Annapolis, walking around during lunch and thinking, "Wow. Everyone's so beautiful." Beautiful people are everywhere, taking all shapes, all colors, all sizes. So how can we not call a character beautiful when most of the women out there are?

Generally, my heroines will be called beautiful, though not generally the perfect variety. But then, I also have one in particular who the hero describes as "better than beautiful: her features are interesting."

And now to grab my son from his highchair before he climbs out and becomes cute-in-a-chipped-tooth sort of way.


  1. Good job! I've seen many a baby that the parents tho't (Of course!) was beautiful. When I fell in love w/the little tyke is when I realized that something had happened. That child was beautiful!

    And btw: I think you're beautiful too, so maybe I do love my CP's! Have a good day!

  2. I fall in both camps too. I don't mind a character being beautiful/good looking. What I DO get weary of is an author repeating on every other page how beautiful/good looking they are.